seasonal

Holiday Festive vs. Show-Ready House?

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‘Tis the season for holiday lights, Christmas trees, Chanukah menorahs, wreaths and yards filled with inflatable holiday characters. Yes, the holiday season is here.

If your house is for sale during this time of year, you may wonder if decorating your home will hurt your chances of selling. While we don’t suggest you deck the halls, it is possible to fulfill your desire to decorate while ensuring your home is show-ready and enticing to prospective buyers.

1. Keep It Simple

This is the year for decorating restraint. Too much decorating can be overwhelming for a prospective buyer and detracts from your curb appeal. Add some outdoor holiday flair with an elegant wreath on the front door, garlands or white candle lights in the windows.

Follow the same approach inside. If you have a Christmas tree, use simple white lights and a few tasteful decorations. Try to stay away from the popsicle stick ornaments your preschooler made and opt for a more classic and simple choice like colored glass balls, stars or snowflakes.

2. Keep Religious Preferences in Mind

Christmas may steal the show this time of year, but Christmas may not be the holiday your prospective buyers are celebrating. HGTV recommends “equal opportunity decorating.” Try an elegant approach with winter-themed decorations. For instance, add a poinsettia as a centerpiece on the dining room table or Nutcracker decorations on the mantel.

3. Think Warm and Cozy

Baby it’s cold outside! Make your home a place that prospective buyers don’t want to leave. Light a fire or turn up the heat. Nobody wants to walk around your home while shivering. Better Homes and Gardens also suggests creating a cozy vibe with throw blankets (they can add a pop of color) and rearranging furniture to focus on the fireplace.

4. Respect the Senses

The smell of apple cider candles or peppermint candies might get you into the holiday spirit, but it could be off-putting to a prospective buyer. We recommend the smell-free approach. Create an inviting mood in your home with a few festive decorations and a thorough cleaning instead.

5. Make Clean Up Easy

The Christmas tree may be beautiful, but the shedding pine needles aren’t. Consider forgoing the tree this year, or if a Christmas tree is a must, perhaps it's the year for an artificial tree.

Clutter is also a big “don’t” and makes clean up more of a chore. While it’s fun to display holiday cards from family and friends, they can quickly take over your mantel, making your beautiful fireplace look like less like a focal point and more like an overstuffed turkey. Read the cards and box them up rather than displaying them this year … it will leave you with one less thing to tackle when your house sells.

There you have it - with simple and neutral décor, your house can be show-ready and festive this holiday season … and gift you a “sold!” home. 

The Ultimate Checklist For Moving In The Winter

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New England House In WinterSo, you found that perfect new home, your offer was accepted, the paperwork is complete and it’s time to pack all your belongings and start moving. This an exciting time, but it’s January in New England, a time of year when even going outside can feel daunting.  

We've put together the ultimate checklist to help reduce some of the stress of moving in the winter and make your move go as smoothly as it would on a warm summer day.

Safety First

  1. Ice melt: The last thing you want to do is slip on a patch of ice while moving a box of your most valuable possessions. Be sure to have plenty of ice melt on hand to reduce the chances of slipping on outdoor stairs and walkways.
  2. Extra towels: Snow melts quickly when tracked inside. Have some extra towels on hand to mop up messy puddles and avoid wet slippery floors inside.
  3. Visit the new house: Before packing the truck for the move to your new home, visit to make sure all the walkways are clear and the lights are working inside and out. Dusk comes early in the winter.

Stay Warm

  1. Protect your hands: Insulate your fingers from the cold and ensure you have a good grip on boxes and furniture by investing in a pair of warm gloves with good grippers.
  2. From the inside out: Brew some coffee and tea or make a quick run to the local coffee shop. You and your team of movers will appreciate a warm beverage on a cold winter day.
  3. Preheat the moving truck: Before you load the last few boxes, start the truck and let it preheat.
  4. Pump up the thermostat: Your new home should feel warm and cozy. When you make that quick visit before the big move make sure the heat is on.

Be Smart

  1. Protect your floors: Mud and dirt can accumulate quickly, and scratches are bound to happen when furniture is being moved. Preserve the floors in your both your old and new homes with temporary floor protection paper.
  2. Avoid a costly error: Before you park your moving truck on the sidewalk or street in front of your new home, learn the winter parking regulations in your new neighborhood. Ask your new neighbors if there are any parking restrictions or visit your local city or town website. 
  3. Feet first: Moving in flip flops is never a good idea … especially in the winter. A pair of sturdy boots with good treads is a much safer choice. Boots will keep your feet warm, help avoid slips and falls and make it easier to walk in the snow or mud. Boots will also protect your precious toes if something does drop on them.

Last but Not Least

  1. Medications: Some medications (both over the counter and prescription) must be stored at a certain temperature. When packing medications, label them appropriately and make them one of the last items in the truck to ensure they do not get too cold.
  2. Shovels: Tis’ the season for snow. Don't pack your shovels! They should be readily accessible in case an unexpected snowstorm comes along or some last minute shoveling is needed to clear out a pathway for moving furniture and boxes. 
  3. Technology: Your flat screen television and computer don’t like the cold temperatures. Avoid freezing your technology by wrapping these items in blankets and loading them into the truck last.
  4. Don’t forget the lights: In the madness of celebrating the holidays, getting ready to move and shoveling snow, it can be easy to forget to take down those holiday lights outside. When you do your final sweep, check outside for any lingering holiday lights on the house or bushes.

While the winter may not be an ideal time to move in New England, the key to any big move is preparation. If the cold, ice and snow gets under your skin, just focus on celebrating spring in your new home.

 

Pro Tips to Protect Your Home from Snow and Ice

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Let’s face it, winter in New England can be brutal. With blizzards, nor’easters and freezing temperatures, this time of year is tough not only on you, but on your home too. Safeguard your home and property from snow, ice and cold temperatures by heeding these winter weather precautions.

Avoid Ice Dams – Tips from The Spruce

  • Keep gutters and downspouts free of dirt and debris.
  • Use a roof rake to remove the lower four feet of snow from the roof edge (rake carefully so you don’t damage the shingles).
  • Eliminate additional heat in the attic by ensuring that recessed lights and duct work are properly insulated.

Dodge Frozen Pipes – Tips from Bob Vila

  • First and foremost, never turn the heat off if you leave the house for an extended period of time. Bob Vila suggests leaving the temperature set to 55°F.
  • When temperatures are below freezing, relieve pressure and keep the water flowing by turning faucets on just enough to drip.
  • Pipes located near the garage are more vulnerable to colder temperatures, so be sure to keep garage doors closed.  

Protect Trees and Shrubs – Tips from Better Homes and Gardens

  • Resist the urge to shake snow and ice off tree branches – this can cause limbs to break. Instead, prop up branches with stakes to avoid breakage.
  • Consider wrapping shrubs and trees with burlap or canvas to serve as a wind barrier (and for those near paved areas, to protect from salt damage).
  • Use mulch to protect tree roots and soil from extreme temperatures.

Steer Clear of Damage to Your Driveway and Walkway – Tips from This Old House

  • Take it easy with the shovel. Aggressive shoveling can cause asphalt to chip.
  • Rock salt can cause damage to concrete; to avoid corrosion, use calcium chloride instead.
  • Gravel driveways and walkways are tricky. Keep shovels and snow blower blades at least one inch off the ground to avoid disturbing the stone.

More Snow and Ice Must-Do’s

  • Snow, mud and ice melt can really do a number on hardwood floors. Protect your floors with doormats both inside and outside, and use a waterproof tray for wet footwear.
  • Clearing outside vents of snow and ice after a big storm should be a top priority - and make sure carbon monoxide detectors are installed and working.  
  • Save your front yard from being torn up by the snow plow by installing snow markers along your property line before the ground freezes.

Unfortunately, New England winters can take a toll on your home, but taking the proper measures before, during and after a big snow storm or a deep freeze can help evade major damage.

Six Community Events To Get You Out And About This Spring

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Spring Save The DateAfter another long New England winter, it’s finally starting to feel like spring. The kids are outside riding their bikes and you can take the dog for a walk without getting bundled up. Flowers are blooming in gardens around North Reading and lawns are greening up even in suburbs north of Boston. The warmer weather is always a welcome change and it’s a great time to get outside and enjoy some fun community events.

One of the wonderful things about being a homeowner in North Reading and the surrounding area is being part of a tight knit community. Whether you are new to the area or a long-time resident, there is never a shortage of fun local happenings. Check out some of our favorite events taking place this spring.

1. Mother’s Day Brunch Picnic and Lilac Festival - Sunday, May 13th, 10am to 1pm

Get outside with your family and celebrate Mom. Enjoy brunch, live music and lawn games. This event is held at Stevens-Coolidge Place (137 Andover St.) in North Andover.

2. Hornet Hustle - Sunday, May 20th, 8am Kids Fun Run, 9am 5K Race

Calling all runners and walkers. The Hornet Hustle 5K is a great way to get active with the entire family. Proceeds from the event support the North Reading school’s physical education programs. The race starts at the third meeting house on the common (134 Haverhill St.) in North Reading.

3. 14th Annual Small Business Golf Tournament - Monday, May 21st, 7am to 1pm

Hosted by the Reading-North Reading Chamber of Commerce, this fun golf tournament is a great way to kick off golf season and do a little networking. The event is held at the spectacular Thompson Country Club in North Reading and a portion of the proceeds are donated to support the business curriculum at both the Reading and North Reading High Schools.

4. Giant Yard Sale In The Park - Saturday, June 2nd 8am to 2pm

Time for some spring cleaning? Clean out your garage or basement and shop for some great deals. The yard sale is held in Andover at the Park on the corner of Chestnut and Bartlett Street.

5. North Reading Town Day - Sunday, June 3rd, 11am to 3pm

2017 was the inaugural year for this fun, free family event held at Ipswich River Park. This year's Town Day is going to be even bigger and features entertainment, food, games, giveaways and local vendors.

6. Reading Friends and Family Day - Saturday, June 16th,10:30am to 3pm

This annual community event is hosted by the Reading Lions Club. The event is a free and a fun way to kick off the summer. The event features food, games, local vendors, giveaways, entertainment and fireworks in the evening.

There are so many fun and exciting activities happening right in your backyard. Get out and explore, have some fun, support some local causes, meet like-minded people and take advantage of all that the Reading-North Reading and surrounding communities have to offer. Happy spring!